China is Set to Dominate the Deep Sea and its Wealth of Rare Metals
China already holds five of the 30 ISA exploration licenses
When the 5,100-ton Dayang Hao, one of China’s most advanced deep-water expedition vessels, left port south of Shanghai two months ago, a red-and-white banner — the kind used to blast Communist Party exhortations — reminded the crew of their mission: “Strive, explore, contribute.”
The Dayang Hao was bound for a 28,500-square-mile stretch of the Pacific Ocean between Japan and Hawaii where China has exclusive rights to prospect for lumpy, golf-ball-size rocks that are millions of years old and worth trillions of dollars.
It is China’s latest contract, won in 2019, to explore for “polymetallic nodules,” which are rich in manganese, cobalt, nickel and copper — metals needed for everything from electric cars to advanced weapons systems. They lie temptingly on the ocean floor, just waiting to be hoovered up.
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